The Georgia legislature last week approved a criminal justice reform bill that would reduce sentences for non-violent crimes such as theft and financial fraud, as well as expands the number of accountability or problem-solving courts in the state for drug, mental health, and veteran offenders in an effort to bypass prison sentences, reports the Times-Georgian in Carrollton, Ga.
Gov. Nathan Deal said the legislation addressed a key issue because of high expenses associated with overcrowding in Georgia prisons and the high rates of recidivism, or repeat offenses, in the state. The bill is the result of recommendations by the Criminal Justice Reform Council, created by the legislature last year to study the criminal justice system and offer suggestions for improvements. Superior Court Judge John Simpson said that Carroll County has used its drug and child support court in lieu of jail time for several years successfully, and that success can be modeled in other areas as well. Carrollton Police Chief Joel Richards agreed that there is potential for problem-solving courts to reduce the number of repeat offenses.